Northern Harvest Sea Farms, Cardigan and Dover Feb 2015

Northern Harvest Sea Farms - Cardigan and Dover,
Feb, 2015
courtesy of
The Cardigan Fish Hatchery and the Dover Fish Hatchery are two salmon farms that have
operated in eastern PEI for decades. The hatcheries were established on the Island by the federal
government in the 1930s and were operated by the University of Prince Edward Island in the
In 2014, Northern Harvest Sea Farms, one of North America’s largest aquaculture companies,
purchased these operations for broodstock and egg production.
“The new ownership will allow us to potentially expand our facility,” says Mike Murray, Site
Manager. “It’s a much larger company with a much larger pool of resources to draw from. Fish
farming is becoming more science-based and we have to keep up on the latest technologies, such
as genetics.”
Northern Harvest Sea Farms produces Atlantic salmon for the commercial aquaculture industry.
The head office of this private company is in New Brunswick and it has operations in
Newfoundland as well.
Northern Harvest is the first salmon company in the world to be four-star BAP certified, which is
a performance standard that assures healthful foods produced through environmentally and
socially responsible means.
They anticipate an annual production of 20 to 25 million eggs from PEI. The Cardigan fish
hatchery has 20 outdoor in-ground ponds and 40 to 50 indoor tanks. At the Cardigan site, salmon
eggs will be incubated, hatched, and the young salmon will be raised to the age of three years.
At the Dover site, the four-year-old mature fish will be held for spawning, and eggs and milt will
be collected there.
Three full-time employees work year-round at each site, and seasonal staff are hired for the
spring and fall. Spawning crews harvest the eggs from the large female fish in the fall.
Additional staff may be hired in the spring to help with the care and movement of the small fish,
known as fry.
The spawning season runs from mid-October to the end of November. During that time, workers
are on the job 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Staff are dealing with live animals and they have to see the work to the end.”
Hiring needs
Efficiency improvements will
be made slowly. Some
additional staff were hired to
accommodate increased
production goals. “In the
future, we may be looking to
expand our number of fulltime employees.”
Job titles
Site Manager
Hatchery Technician
Spawning crew
Hatchery maintenance staff
Human resources, office
administration, purchasing and
other financial tasks are
handled by the head office in
New Brunswick.
Mike Murray, Site Manager, greets a visitor to the recent
Aqua Connect event in Montague.
Staff profile
“Some staff have a livestock farming background,” Mike says. “Many of the principles in fish
farming are similar. Even though fish are in the water, they are still animals.
“Some staff have little formal training, but have much experience. Other staff have community
college diplomas. As Site Manager, I have a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in
Difficult job to fill
“The most difficult job to fill would be an Assistant Manager role. The challenge is finding
someone with facilities management experience. This person would have the fish background
knowledge as well as the knowledge of the systems required to keep the facility running
Work setting & conditions
“Working at the hatchery is a unique way of life that staff find challenging yet rewarding. They
see the fish grow, much like seeing crops and animals grow on the farm.”
How to get your foot in the door
“Applicants must know their strengths and weaknesses. They must also know about the job that
they are applying for. Do your research on the position and the company.”
Mike says events such as the annual PEI Shellfish Festival and Aqua Connect PEI, recently
hosted by the PEI Aquaculture Alliance, are good places for job seekers to network.
“These are great opportunities because many of the managers and owners of these companies are
in attendance. Job seekers can shake their hands, introduce themselves, and talk about their
“It’s certainly an informal way to meet people and get some information.”
Recruitment strategy
“An applicant could come directly to me and then I can send them along to whom I think they
should talk to. Though I may not be making the final hiring decision, I would be the applicant’s
“If there was an opening in the company, I would make sure the right people meet the applicant.”
“If a person is willing to learn and has a keen interest, we are willing to train them. It’s a lot of
hands-on work, where you learn as you go.”
Future plans
“It is still early in the changeover to Northern Harvest Sea Farms, so it’s too early to say how
things will unfold in the future. If you are willing to move, there are opportunities in
Newfoundland and New Brunswick for employment as boat captains and sea cage operators.
These are more diverse opportunities that aren’t available on PEI.”
Contact Mike Murray, Manager, at 902-583-2952 or [email protected]
For more information, visit
Northern Harvest Sea Farms is a member of the PEI Aquaculture Alliance and the PEI Finfish
Association. For more information on finfish production on PEI, visit
Did you know…..
According to the PEI Aquaculture Alliance website, the finfish production cycle occurs the
following way:
Eggs are collected from the females in the fall of the year. Gentle pressure on the abdomen will
cause them to release eggs in a process called stripping. In some cases, air may be injected into
the abdomen to help release the eggs.
Fertilization occurs in the same way – pressure on the abdomens of males causes milt to be
released. Typically, fertilized eggs are placed into incubation trays with flowing oxygenated
water. Incubation times depend on the species of the fish and the rearing temperature.